Season 1 Episode 2

Uncertainty Principle

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Jan 28, 2005 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
285 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Charlie accurately predicts where a band of bank robbers will strike next. But when Don and his team confront them, a massive shoot-out occurs leaving four people, including an officer, dead. The outcome disturbs Charlie and he retreats into the family garage to work out an unsolvable math problem that he also plunged into after his mother became ill a year earlier. But Don needs his brother's help and tries to get Charlie to return to the case.moreless

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  • This is definitely one, if not the best episode ever. It really shows the premise of the show.

    This episode really shows how the relationship of the brothers is structured, and how truly unstable Charlie is after the death of his mother. Charlie accurately predicts the location of the next target in the string of a bank robberies by two men named the Charm School boys. Once the FBI confronts these men, a deadly shoot out ensues, leaving Don injured with a shot in the arm, and Charlie thinking that his brother is statistically dead. This is one of my favorite episodes because it shows how close the brothers are really, and how much family means to every member of the Eppes family, and how Charlie is particularly affected by attacks when they hit close to home.moreless
  • good episode

    Charlie helps Don find the probable next bank that robbers will hit. However, when the robbers come, a shootout occurs and an officer is killed. Charlie is devastated and retreats to his world of math. It's interesting to learn how Charlie copes with death and things out of his control - he just does math and ignores everything else. However, Charlie was able to snap out of it and help Don catch the bad guys. Overall, the story in this episode was just ok, but the character development was great. We're learning more and more about the two brothers and their past.moreless
  • Really awesome episode!

    This episode was only the second one, but it was a great, great way to get the season rolling. I love the difference between the brothers: one being a kick-ass FBI agent, and the other being a genius frady-cat. Still, Charlie is my favourite character. So this episode really delved into omre of how Charlie really is: Nervous for his brother, whom he doesn't really have a good relationship with, and nervous about the violent world. It's so interesting to see the dynamic between the family members. I really don't have the words to bescribe this episode beacuse I literally think this is one of my all time favourites. It's brialliantly writtena and exsecuted!moreless
  • My favorit3 3pisod3.

    This was most d3finat3ly my favorit3 3pisod3. It was don3 diff3r3ntly th3n any oth3r 3pisod3. I lov3d how so much stuff about th3ir past was r3v3al3d. And wh3n Charli3 was talking to Alan his voic3 got all sq3aky and it was just a r3ally aw3som3 sc3n3. I lik3d th3 part wh3n Don got mad at Charli3 wh3n th3y w3r3 out by th3 Koi pond and Don grabb3d Charli3's shirt. I also lik3d th3 3nding sc3n3, it was quit3 amusing. I lik3d th3 us3 of H3is3nburg's unc3rtainty principl3 it was a th3ory I actually und3rstood p3rf3ctly. This is th3 b3st 3pisod3 to dat3.moreless
  • Review

    This episode was much different from the first, with Charlie having all ready providing the help to the FBI. His mathmatics were correct, yet something went wrong that not even math could predict. I didnt much like Charlies seemingly mental breakdown during the episode and I think had he just stayed out of contact for a few days that would have been better. Every episodes going to make him have some sort of a roadbump, so having him go mental after one little bump in the road was a little much for me. I thought the episode was good though, a lot better then the pilot episode. I still want to learn more about the characters backgrounds thoughmoreless
Gibby Brand

Gibby Brand

Dr. Michael Sabello

Guest Star

J. Paul Boehmer

J. Paul Boehmer

FBI Agent Team Leader

Guest Star

Catherine O'Connor

Catherine O'Connor


Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (12)

    • Opening Numb3rs:
      2 SUSPECTS
      $2700 AVERAGE TAKE

    • The Math:
      P vs. NP – an unanswered computer science problem whereas it is easy to use a computer to check the solution to a problem, but impossible to formulate the program for the computer to do so.
      Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle – an aspect of quantum mechanics which states an object cannot be observed without changing what is being observed.

    • Don and Charlie graduated high school on the same day.

    • When he was three, Charlie could multiply four digit numbers in his head.

    • Alan's wife died of cancer (type unknown).

    • The local news station shown in this episode was Channel 8.

    • The explanation of the uncertainty principle in this episode has been confused with the so-called observer effect. Both are aspects of quantum mechanics, but the uncertainty principle states the impossibility to measure the value of some pairs of variables (so-called conjugate quantities) like location and speed of a particle at the same time with absolute certainty, while the observer effect states that observing an object always has an effect on the object.

    • Charlie uses the game "Minesweeper" in this episode not only for his P vs. NP problem, but to determine the pattern of the bank robbers.

    • Even with all the forward planning they did, how did they manage to get a sniper up on a bridge in minutes to take out the guy with the rocket?

    • If there's a helicopter getting all these shots on television for Charlie to see, why aren't they pointing at the gunmen to get their identity? More to the point, why aren't the gunmen shooting at the helicopter?

    • When Don gets shot in his left forearm, it is bandaged. However, later in the episode when he is in the armored truck, the bandage has disappeared. When he has dinner with Charlie and his father it is also missing.

    • In the long-shot of the car explosion, Don is shown lying with his head to the left, but in the close-up he is looking at the car, so he has to lie the other way round.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Charlie: The FBI's nicknamed them The Charm School Boys, because they are so nice and polite, they don't use weapons or threats. They say please and thank you. They even open doors for other bank customers on their way in or out.

    • Charlie: Dad, uhm... I've been working on a problem. P vs. NP. It can't be solved.
      Alan: I think you knew that when you started.
      Charlie: I could work on it forever. Constantly pushing forward, still never reaching an end.
      Alan: You know, sometimes you want to think that things don't end. But they do.
      Charlie: When Mom was sick, I couldn't stop working on it.
      Alan: Yeah, I know. I didn't get it. Uhm... not then. And your brother sure doesn't understand why you spent the last three months of your mother's life working on a math problem. But your... your mother. She understood why. Because she knew how your mind worked.

    • Alan: Well, it's hard for Don to ask for help. It's really hard for him to ask Charlie.

    • Don: Wanna hear something wild? When I was in college I played baseball. Charlie could predict the number of walks I was gonna get just by my stance.

    • Larry: Don't confuse the ability to predict with the ability to control.

    • Larry: Amita also said that you wouldn't be coming to school for a while... and I just think, you know, considering your teaching schedule, the upcoming semifinals, I mean, it struck me as rather odd, just kind of... entirely unworkable.

    • Larry: I also have a post-doc who needs help with some references on an article. Maybe you could recommend a couple of math students.
      Charlie: Wait, let's clarify. This is the redheaded post-doc, and she rollerblades?
      Larry: Yeah, really brilliant theoretician.
      Charlie: Forget the undergrads, I'll help her.

    • Larry: (On the P vs. NP problem) You know that it's considered unsolvable.
      Charlie: Well, certainly people who have failed to solve it may think that.

  • NOTES (10)

    • The opening shootout scene was unusually big and difficult to produce for an episodic TV show, but Davis Guggenheim was able to pull it off. At one point, Rob Morrow slipped and fell. Rather than stop the scene, he just started crawling as fast as he could along a wall. A short burst of that shot remained in the final cut and made it seem very real. The scene was shot at a courtyard outside an office building and is used in a lot of TV and movies. One movie was Collateral Damage with Arnold Schwarzennegger.

    • All the scenes by the koi pond were originally intended to be in other locations. Originally, Charlie and Larry were in an observatory. Later, they were on a rooftop. The producers were looking for locations that captured the idea of observing things from above. However, the producers couldn't get those locations to fit into the shooting schedule. Due to the big action and number of other locations, they couldn't even do any college locations. So they had to make nearly all of those scenes happen at the Eppes house. It was the director, Davis Guggenheim, who thought of having Charlie and Larry watch the fish.

    • It wasn't explained why Charlie already has access to Don's office without any backstory. This episode was meant to play 4th in order, and didn't explain that Charlie already had clearance. This was revealed in Vector.

    • The episode was originally due to air 4th, but CBS decided to push it up in the playlist. This was due not only to the high action in the episode, but also as a decent follow-up to the Pilot.

    • This episode was originally titled Cause & Causality.

    • Crew Clarifications: Larry Edwards (1st Company Grip), Blake Smith (Assistant to Brooke Kennedy).

    • Company Credits: The Post Group (Telecine and Assembly), Wildtracks (Post Production Sound Editorial), Momentum Lab (Additional Graphics), Skip Film (Main Title Design)

    • This episode was rated TV-14 (V).

    • International Airdates:
      Czech Republic: June 2, 2008 on TV Nova
      Slovakia: October 5, 2009 on JOJ

    • International Episode Titles:
      Czech Republic: Přičinné souvislosti (Causalities)